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Michigan woman leads effort to recall officials who approved EV battery factory with China ties

The headquarters for battery maker Gotion Inc. is in California, but its parent company, Gotion High-tech, is based in China.

Published: June 28, 2023 11:35pm

A Michigan woman is leading an effort to try to oust elected officials in her township for allowing the maker of electric vehicle batteries with ties to China to open a plant in her township.

The headquarters for battery maker Gotion Inc. is in California, but its parent company, Gotion High-tech, is based in China, which is raising concern about its connections to the Chinese Communist Party and national security. 

The effort to remove all seven elected members of the Green Charter Township board for voting in favor of a resolution to allow Gotion to build a plant there is being led, at least in part, by resident and business owner Lori Brock.

Mecosta County on May 11 approved the effort to begin the collection of signatures for a recall petition, county clerk Marcee Purcell said Wednesday.

Purcell also said organizers have an August 4th deadline to collect the requisite number of signatures to get the recall question on a November ballot. 

Brock says she has enough signatures against the entire board with the exception of Supervisor James Chapman, who has filed an appeal and hired a lawyer.

Chapman hired international law firm Clark Hill PLC, to represent him through the recall effort, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and review by Just the News.

Brock says Chapman's appeal originally delayed his recall process for 40 days and that he's successfully delayed it again.

"We waited out the 40 days, and now he's ... saying that the judge has a conflict of interest with him," Brock said.

Just The News was not able to confirm this allegation, but the FOIA'd documents show communications about the petition between Purcell and county probate Judge Tyler Thompson.

Brock says Chapman thinks "he's just going to elongate this, and we're going to forget about it."

She also said that if this appeal fails, she’ll get the required amount of signatures against him “in a matter of days."

Chapman has not returned requests for comment but said this spring the estimated $2.3 billion plant is the "largest single business investment in the county's history” and is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” for its roughly 3,200 residents. 

In April, a Michigan Senate committee gave final legislative approval to allocate $175 million in state funds to help build the plant, which will make to lithium-ion power batteries. And the deal also includes $540 million in tax breaks.

The federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviewed the proposed sale of roughly 400 acres in northern Michigan to build the plant but said early this month the matter was not within its jurisdiction.

The plant, near the city of Big Rapids, would create 2,350 jobs with average wages of $29.42 per hour, according to the company’s proposal.

The local news outlet Bridge Michigan recently reported that construction is set to start in July. However, Brock says she and her allies got the Environmental Protection Agency to keep Gotion from buying some land it was reportedly eyeing, which makes it unclear whether the zoning process is complete.

“We just gained back a couple hundred acres” from Gotion’s purchasing options, she said. 

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